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Robotics Club Solves Real World Water Challenges

As the Robotics Team approaches competition on November 18th, we asked Coach Nancy Carlile a few questions about this year's Club...

Q: What is this year’s robotics challenge? 

A: We are part of the FIRST Lego League Robotics Program.  The 2017/2018 season theme is Hydro Dynamics: how we find, transport, use or dispose of water. The challenge was for each team to research and find a real-world problem related to the topic. Then they needed to research current solutions and either improve upon one or come up with a new solution. Once their research and presentation are completed, they are to share it with local professionals in related fields.


Q: What do students learn in robotics?


  • How to research challenges that are facing today’s scientists.
  • Design, build, test and program robots using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology.
  • Apply real-world math and science concepts.
  • Learn critical thinking, team-building, and presentation skills.
  • Participate in tournaments and celebrations.
  • Understand and practice gracious professionalism, the concept that character is what matters—working hard can be fun and profoundly satisfying. We do our best work while helping others and treating others with respect and kindness.


Q: Who are the club members and coaches?   

A: We currently have 23 kids total from 4th to 8th grades. We have two teams that will compete in the competition; with 7 other kids that opted to do a self-paced program that we offered this season where they work at their own pace to build a robot and program it.

Coaches Nancy Carlile, Scott Carlile, Nancy Hillman, Alice Doyle, Kelly Lamb and Jason Seneker have been wonderful and very giving of their time. We meet every Wednesday and Friday from 4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. until competition is over.

For these last 3 weekends leading up to the competition, we have also held meetings each Saturday and Sunday.


Q: Who will you compete against? 

A: There are several local area qualifying tournaments in the Tulsa area, and we are participating in one being held at Tulsa Memorial High School on Saturday, Nov 18th.  They had 47 teams register for that day so have split it into a double qualifier so that for the day of competition, our two teams will compete against 21 other local teams.  If either of our teams score high enough in all the areas of competition, there is a chance of being advanced to participate in the Oklahoma State Championship held in December.  

According to Coach Carlilie, “Winning isn't necessarily the focus. The process of preparing for the competitions is where the magic happens.  Coming together and working on team building, learning research skills, visiting with professionals in the field of study (Hydro-Dynamics), building a robot, programming, presenting and public speaking all become experiences the kids participate in during the months leading up to the qualifier.” 

Competition is a full day from 8:00am -5:30pm.  Teams compete in 4 areas:


FIRST Lego League Core Values: This segment evaluates teamwork. Only the team members go into the judging room and are asked to complete something as a team while the judges evaluate and score them on how they interact as a team. The judges will also question them on the FLL Core Values and how they put them to use.


Project Presentation: Team members go into the judging room and will present their project research and solution. Questions from the judges will follow. One adult is allowed to go in the room to video.

Robot Design: The team explains why they built the robot the way they did and show off Its functionality.


Robot Games: The team will have programmed their robot to complete missions on a Hydro Dynamic themed table. They will participate in 3 rounds throughout the afternoon and are allowed 2 minutes and 30 seconds to run their autonomous robot on the field table. Judges will be scoring each round and the team will take the best of the 3 scores. Scores are based on which missions they chose to program and how well it accomplishes them on the table.


Q: Other interesting information people should know about SPX Robotics?

Flashlight Sale: The Memorial Schools Robotics teacher shared her connection with Faraday Flashlights to secure 75 flashlights to our team to sell as a fundraiser. The kids voted to sell them after Mass at St. Pius X, which we did over a recent weekend. We were scheduled to sell after 4 different Masses but we sold out after the first two! If it hadn’t been for the Bedlam Football game, we would have probably sold out after one Mass. The response blew us away! Thank you St. Pius X community for supporting this program!

Field Trips:  We took all 23 kids to tour the Tulsa Water Treatment Mohawk Plant and to the Tulsa Northside Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Professionals:  We’ve had a Civil Engineer with the Southwestern Power Administration and a Limnologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers come speak to the group.

School PresentationsAs part of the FIRST Lego League Robotics program, the teams are expected to share their project research presentation with others.  We are presenting to the classes at St. Pius X on Tuesday, November 14th. The teachers have the opportunity to sign up their classes to come and see the teams in action.  The repetition of presenting will also go a long way in preparing them for competition day.